Monday, November 06, 2006

We Close Our Eyes

I've been having some interesting conversations of late. Conversations that helped me see why I act/react certain ways to certain behaviors. And it's been enlightening. I've always known that I didn't like being yelled at (yeah, really, who does?), and I always blamed it on the Former Father (FF). I was scared to death of my father when I was growing up. He used to say that he never had to hit me (I remember being spanked once, but it might have been twice), because all he had to do was look at me and I'd start to cry. When people yell, I can feel myself physically quail and shake and react in fear to the noise. They don't even have to be yelling at me, and I find that the older I get the more I dislike it when people yell.

I was telling the Libertarian that I despise being yelled at and he asked who yelled at me and that I should avoid those people. I said it was mostly the FF, but then I realised that it wasn't just being yelled at that bothers me, it's also be ridiculed. I equate being ridiculed with being yelled at And as I look back at my formative years, I have come to understand that the FF didn't really yell at me so much, but used ridicule as a way to control his children, or at least me and probably the Little Brother (LB). And the sad thing is that my family still uses this method for whatever reason. And I really hate it. I despise people making me feel incompetent and/or worthless.

My Younger Sister (YS) is really good at it, especially when she's mad at me, like now because she asked my opinion of her new boyfriend and insisted that I give it. It's pretty much a given that I have zero athletic ability. The FF used to say that I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time (I can, for the record) and that I throw like a girl. The sad thing is that it was 1986 before someone looked at me and said, "Kathleen, you are a girl." Honestly, it was a huge revelation to me. All I knew was that in my father's eye, it was an insult. Now, he never bothered teaching me how to throw like a boy, as he couldn't be bothered to waste his time when I wasn't going to be his golden child and follow in his footsteps (he was a high school jock/football star). That was reserved for my Older Sister (OS) and possibly the YS. I think boys automatically know how NOT to throw like a girl.

A few years back the family was all together at my aunt & uncle's house for some function or other and the YS, LB and I were out front playing Frisbee. Somehow it turned into a game of catch and they both started making fun of me throwing like a girl, and they were pretty relentless about it. They were laughing hysterically and I started out laughing, but when they didn't stop I found that it got me to me and I found myself crying. I said something to them to lighten up and they said, "Why? You're laughing, too." I couldn't tell them that I was crying not from laughing so hard, but because they had hurt my feelings, because that would have brought more ridicule my way. In my family you don't show fear or any weakness. Stupid, yes, but I felt so humiliated because I can't throw a ball in a way that doesn't make people laugh at me. I figure the ball gets to where it needs to be, who cares how it gets there? It's not like I'm bouncing it before it gets to the plate.

Last weekend I figured out that the YS feels contempt for me. I think she would deny it, but then maybe it's just that she thinks I'm a complete idiot. What is it about me that engenders this response in people? My best friend growing up actually said the words "Familiarity breeds contempt." about me when the guy she was dating saw I lived next door and said something about me being nice. The reason I know that? She told me. Anyway, back to the YS and last weekend. I had bought some underwear recently that didn't fit, so I gave it to my cousin who is quite thin. I didn't want to throw them away and it's not like I actually wore them or anything. For some reason when my cousin got home and checked them out she texted the YS, instead of me, asking if I had text messaging. The YS said Yes, and Cousin said to get me to show her the text message. I didn't feel the need to share, so simply told the YS that she was thanking me for stuff I gave her. She, of course, being nosy, had to ask what. I told her, "Underwear." And she said snottily, "Oh, that's a normal gift to give cousins." I felt like telling her to fuck off, but I didn't. I lamely defended myself instead of just walking away which is what I should have done. I could have said something like "Well, I guess I don't know any better since I don't have my doctorate." But then she'd just think (which she already does) that I'm jealous of her degree which I'm not. She actually told the LB that I had changed toward her since she had decided to go to grad school. LB told me, of course, and said, "Of course, she doesn't know that we know what she said." What she said has been pissing me off for four years. Should I get over it? I don't know. You tell me. Every single one of my siblings has a college degree – undergrad. (Me included, for the record.) None of us use our degrees in our jobs, although I doubt we could have gotten our jobs without a degree. So, the weekend YS moved up to Mt. Pleasant for grad school, Mom went with her, of course and YS said to Mom, "Well, at least one of your children will be using their degree." Geez, YS, why don’t you show a little more contempt for all of your siblings!? Now, the reason we know this is because Mom is blonde and thought that that statement should be shared. Yeah, she was proud of the YS for going to grad school, but did she think about how insulting that statement was? Mom told my older brother and sister and their wives who, of course, felt the need to share. Good job, YS, you pissed off all your siblings with one comment. My SIL was even offended because she includes herself in our family, as she should. Apparently, YS thought Mom was smart enough to keep such a snotty statement to herself. Guess not.


At Monday, 06 November, 2006, Blogger LL said...

Remember when I told you that you were a 2? You just spontaneously admitted to having 90% of the qualities of that number. Quite interesting actually...

At Monday, 06 November, 2006, Anonymous Ursula said...

It is pretty damn amazing how relatively normal most of us turn out in spite of our families. And, at the same time, the amount of baggage us women carry because of some really f'ed up fathers. Maybe it's a good thing we aren't procreating. :)

At Tuesday, 07 November, 2006, Blogger Jason said...

Fathers are a hoot and are absolutely fantastic for morale building aren't they? I feel both lucky and unlucky to be an only child. Luckily I don't have to be compared to any siblings, but then all the negative demoralizing focus is on me. Sucks either way! We should just be grateful that we turned out okay(?). Facing our imposed, supposed shortcomings just makes us stronger. Don't let it depress you. Be proud that you turned out to be such a wonderful person.

At Tuesday, 07 November, 2006, Anonymous dreadmouse said...

It's not fair when the people who should have your back no matter what are the ones who tear you down. I hope I don't do that to my family...

At Wednesday, 08 November, 2006, Blogger Ben O. said...

Plenty of spankings here . . . I guess my parents didn't have "the look"down.

Or maybe I was just too feisty.

Ben O.

At Wednesday, 08 November, 2006, Blogger trinamick said...

I think when people find someone who doesn't talk back to them, they use it to their advantage. My sister is the same way. She lets everyone put her down. It probably doesn't help that I then tell her off for not standing up for herself.

Someone told me once that it only takes one peck from each of the other chickens before one chicken gets pecked to death. We all need to be careful about the things we say, even when we think we are being helpful.

At Wednesday, 08 November, 2006, Blogger Kathleen said...

LL - One of these days you'll have to explain what a "2" is.

Urs - You said it, Sistah! Trust me, the best thing I can ever do for my children is NOT to have them.

Jason - Try being the sole disappointment for four other siblings!

Dreadmouse - I think it helps to be aware of these pitfalls.

Ben O - My parents weren't afraid to spank, just didn't have to with me.

Trina - Yes, I think you're right, but I find it's easier to keep the peace by not speaking back. And I really liked the chicken analogy, it's so easy for things we say to be misconstrued.

At Wednesday, 08 November, 2006, Blogger Sal said...

Do you honestly think I don't throw like a girl?


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